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IR and Digital Cameras

What digital cameras are suitable for IR photography

This page is part of a series of articles about digital infrared photography. You'll find link to all the segments of the IR Series in the left margin. This segment lists the IR properties of some digital cameras.

1. Introduction

All sensors used in digital cameras are (to some extent) sensitive to infrared (IR) light. This is simple to verify. Standard remote controls uses infrared light to signal the device. Take a TV or DVD remote control, point the remote at your digital camera and push one of the buttons. No visible light can be seen, but if you look at the preview or review of the remote on your camera's LCD screen, you should see the infrared light emitted by the device as a bright spot.

IR-light may cause image defects such as flare, false colours, hot spots and chromatic aberrations. It is not a good thing (in an ordinary photograph) to have the image affected by infrared light. As a measure against these defects, an IR-blocking filter in usually placed in the front of the camera's sensor.

2. Finding a Suitable Camera

The most suitable cameras for infrared photography are those were the infrared blocking filter put in the camera by the manufacturer has been replaced with an infrared pass filter. One the best placed to find such a camera is eBay.

Search eBay for an infrared-converted camera.

Some camera models can also be used without modification. This may be worth trying if you already own the camera. But results will be inferior to those you get with a modified camera, so don't bother buying an unmodified camera for infrared photography.

3. IR sensitivity

Depending on the characteristics of the digital sensor, and the efficiency of the IR-blocking filter, the sensitivity of different digital cameras to infrared light vary a great deal. The simple test with a remote described above will not reveal to what extent your camera is able to register infrared light.

A better test of your camera's infrared capabilities would be to borrow or buy a cheap IR-pass filter such as Hoya R72 or Wratten 89B and go out on a bright sunny day to photograph scenes with a lot of green foliage. A look at the resulting images should tell you a lot of how capable the camera is in the near infrared part of the spectrum.

Hoya R72 filter. Floppy disc filter.
Olympus C2020Z ISO 100, f/2.0. Left: Hoya R72 filter (EV 8.6). Right: Floppy disc filter (EV 5).

Or, if you don't have access to a real IR-pass filter, you're supposed to be able to do the same test using an unexposed (black) frame of slide film. or a piece of plastic cut out from an old floppy disc taped in front of the lens. These materials are both – to some extent – transparent to infrared light. I've not been able to find some slide film to test this yet, but the pair of images above show the results from doing this test using an unmodifed Olympus C2020Z at ISO 100, f/2.0. I photographed some plants in bright sunlight, and the result using the Hoya R72 can been seen on the left, while the result of the exposure with a improvised IR-pass filter made from floppy disc material can be seen on the right. The difference in sensitivity between the two is 3.6 stops, which means that the Hoya R72 filter lets through about 12.5 times as much near infrared light as the floppy disc filter.

Some time ago, I started to collect data about how sensitive the different cameras were to IR-light. My idea was to find a model that was sensitive enough to give good quality infrared images when used handheld. (I ended up buying an Olympus C2020Z, which has served me well.)

Around 2004, IR-blocking filters used in digital cameras started to become much more effective. As a general rule, cameras released after 2004 need to have their IR-blocking filter removed to if you want to use them for infrared photography.

As a result, I've stopped collecting this data. I'll keep the table on-line for some time, as an assistance to those looking for an old, cheap camera that can be used unmodified for infrared photography.

In the table below, you will find a list of camera models and a column labelled Avg. IS. This column gives the average computed IS (Infrared Sensitivity). This is number that is computed just like Exposure Value (EV), but with a filter in front of the sensor that cut off visible light so that only infrared light pass.

The average IS indicates how sensitive the camera is to infrared light. The higher the average IS, the more sensitive the sensor is to infrared light. For comparison, a camera's sensitivity to a scene lit by bright sunlight corresponds to a EV around 15. To find out how less sensitive the camera is to infrared light, you subtract the Avg. IS in the column below from EV 15, and the result is the difference in number of stops.

Example: The Epson 850Z infrared light sensitivity with the Hoya R72 filter is IS 9, so it is about 6 stops (15-9) less sensitive to infrared light than to visible light with this particular filter.

IS 8 corresponds to f/2 at 1/60th of a second at ISO 100. To use a digital camera for handheld infrared photography, I think it should have an IS of 8 or more if its maximum aperture is f/2.0, and 9 or more if its maximum aperture is f/2.8 (YMMV).

A basic problem with digital IR photography is that thermal noise increases and “hot” pixels appear due to the long exposure times involved. This means that EV is not the only thing that determines suitability of a particular sensor. If a less sensitive sensor has better noise characteristics, then it may be give an overall better IR-performance than one with a higher EV number, but worse noise characteristics.


The table below indicates the relative IR-sensitivity of a number of popular digital cameras, with the average EV for each model indicated (some models that share the same sensor is lumped together.

Sony 1/2" 2.11 MPx
Camera Avg. IS Max f/ IS      T      f/ ISO Fltr. Link
Epson 850Z 9.0 2.0 8.9 1/60 2.8 100 R72 ddb #1
9.2 1/75 2.8 100 R72 ddb #2
Oly C20x0Z 8.1 2.0 8.6 1/100 2,0 100 R72 gd #1
7.9 1/30 2,8 100 R72 gd #2
7.9 1/60 2,0 100 RG715 jr #1
7.9 1/60 2.0 100 R72 gh #1
Nikon Coolpix 800 7.9 3.5 7.9 1/19 3.5 100 R72 rh #1
Sony 1/1.8" 3.34 MPx
Camera Avg. IS Max f/ IS     T     f/ ISO Fltr. Link
Canon G1 6.0 2.0 6.0 1.6 7.1 50 R72 cx #1
Minolta DiMAGE 5 6.0 2.8 6.0 1/8 2.8 100 R72 fm #1
Sony 1/1.8" 4.0 MPx
Camera Avg. IS Max f/ IS     T     f/ ISO Fltr. Link
Canon G3 5.3 2.0 5.3 1/5 2.0 50 ? ml #1
Canon A80 5.0 2.8 5.0 2 5.6 50 R72 cac #1
Sony 2/3" 5.24 MPx
Camera Avg. IS Max f/ IS     T     f/ ISO Fltr. Link
Minolta DiMAGE 7 7.3 2.8 7.5 1/30 3.5 200 ? rt #2
7.0 1/16 2.8 100 R72 dt #1
7.5 1/45 2.8 200 RG715 jr #2
Other compacts
Camera Avg. IS Max f/ IS     T     f/ ISO Fltr. Link
Panasonic DMC-TZ5 3.6 3.3 3.6 1/4 4.9 800 W89B dc #1
Canon G5 3.2 2.0 3.0 8.0 5.6 50 R72 ds #2
3.4 1 3.2 100 R72 gh #2
Panasonic DMC-FZ7 3.0 2.8 2.4 6 5.0 90 B+W092 grr #1
3.6 4 6.3 80 B+W092 grr #2
Oly 5050Z 2.4 1.8 1.0 3.2 2.0 64 ? kt #1
1.5 3 2.3 64 ? kt #2
2.6 1 2.0 64 ? kt #3
3.4 1 2.6 64 ? kt #4
3.3 1/2 1.8 64 R72 hc #1
Casio QV-4000 -0.6 2.0 -0.6 6 2.0 100 ? ca #1
Camera Avg. IS Max f/ IS     T     f/ ISO Fltr. Link
Leica M8 7.8 - 7.8 1/45 8.0 1250 W89B mr #1
Camera Avg. IS Max f/ IS     T     f/ ISO Fltr. Link
Pentax K100D 7.9 - 7.9 1/30 5.6 400 R72 ma #1
Nikon D100 7.6 - 7.6 1/6 8.0 200 IR720 ss #1
Nikon D70 /
Nikon D50 /
Nikon D40
6.6 - 5.3 1/3 8.0 400 R72 rt #1
8.7 1/13 8.0 200 W89B br #1
6.3 1/8 4.5 200 R72 hcb #1
6.5 1/15 3.5 200 R72 wjc #1
7.3 1/25 3.5 200 W89B tm #1
5.8 3 18 200 R72 rs #1
6.4 1 13 200 R72 rs #2
Fuji S2 6.0 - 6.0 1/4 5.6 200 R72 ddb #3
Oly E-300 4.3 - 4.3 1/4 4.5 400 R72 sh #1
Canon D30 4.3 - 4.9 4 11 100 B+W092 cs #1
4.0 2 8.0 200 R72 cx #2
4.0 1 5.6 200 R72 ca #2
Sony DSLR-A100 1.8 - 2.3 25 11 100 R72 jk #1
1.3 13 8.0 200 R72 jk #2
1.7 5 8.0 400 R72 jk #3
Canon 350D 1.6 - 1.6 2.5 11 1600 R72 nn #1
2.7 10 8.0 100 R72 pn #1
0.7 0.8 4.5 1600 R72 fe #1
1.4 25 8.0 100 B+W093 je #2
Fuji S3 1.5 - 1.5 23 8.0 100 W89B cm #1
1.5 23 8.0 100 W89B cm #2
Canon 10D /
Canon 300D
1.1 - 1.5 0.71 1.4 100 R72 bc #1
1.4 6 8.0 400 R72  
0.4 6 4.0 200 R72 gs #1
Nikon D80 0.8 - 0.8 30 8.0 125 R72 eh #1
Nikon D7000 0.8 - 0.7 1/13 2.0 3200 R72 wb #1
0.8 1.8 7.1 1600 R72 t9 #1
Canon 1D Mk2 0.7 - 0.3 4 9.0 1600 R72 nn #2
1.1 15 8.0 200 R72  
Nikon D300 -0.9 - -0.9 15 2.8 100 R72 wjc #2
Canon 400D -1.2 - -1.2 70 5.6 100 IR720  
Nikon D200 -1.3 - -1.3 25 4.5 200 R72  
Canon 20D -2.0 - -1.0 15 11 1600 R72 nn #4
-3.0 20 4.5 800 R72 ck #1
IR-modified / without IR-blocking filter
Camera Avg. IS Max f/ IS     T     f/ ISO Fltr. Link
Nikon D1 ir 15.3 - 15.3 1/320 16.0 200 W89B  
Canon 300D ir 14.9 - 14.9 1/250 11 100 R72  
Canon 10D ir 13.8 - 14.0 1/1000 8.0 400 R72 je #1
13.6 1/400 11 400 R72 jwk #1
Oly 2040Z ir 13.3 1.8 13.3 1/500 4.5 100 RG715 jr #3
Sigma SD10 13.0 - 13.3 1/160 8.0 100 W87C ca #1
13.0 1/125 8.0 100 B+W093 spm #1
12.6 1/50 11 100 W87C rd #1
Canon D30 ir 11.9 - 11.9 1/60 8.0 100 W89B jrs #1
Nikon E990 ir 11.6 2.5 11.6 1/158 4.4 100 W87 rdh #1
Sony f828 ir 11.3 2.0 11.5 1/60 5.6 64 ? aw #1
11.0 1/200 4.5 200 ? aw #2
Minolta D7 ir 11.3 2.8 11.3 1/125 4.5 100 RG715 jr #4
Kodak DCS 460 8.4 - 8.4 1/16 3.3 80 R72 gh #3

How to read the table: The first column (Camera) list the camera model, the second lists the computed the average infrared sensitivity (Avg. IS) for the camera, and the third the maximum aperture (Max f/) for the particular camera. Then the next six columns list image specific data: The IS for the particular image (IS), the shutter time (T), the aperture (f/), the ISO setting (ISO), the filter(s) used (Fltr.), and finally, in the Link column, the photographers initials, with a a link back to the page with the original image

Methodology: The IS numbers listed in the table are computed from images taken by different photographers, at different times and under different conditions. It would obviously have been better to make comparisons by setting up all the different cameras under identical conditions and make fair and direct measurements. However, I don't have the resources to do such a controlled experiment, and those who have (e.g. DPreview) are not suffiscient interested in infrared photography to include infrared sensitivity in their standardised testing suite. I give priority to images taken under roughly the same conditions, depicting the same subject matter. This means that if possible, I use images taken with a filter with an infrared pass point of 720 nm (Wratten 89B or equivalent) depicting a bright sunlit landscape (f/16, 1/250 sec. at ISO 200, equal to EV 15 in the visible spectrum) with plenty of foliage. While these constraints are not suffiscient to eliminate all errors, it is the best I can do. What I eventually hope, is to have a large number of samples from each camera. By computing an average IS I hope that the “law of large numbers” eventually will even things out.

Disclaimer: Many of the samples linked to has been extensively post-processed by skilled artists. Do not assume that this is how the image appears out of the camera. The samples indicate at most what can be expressed by a skilled craftsman or artist and a particular camera, lens and filter combination.

Exposure Value

The exposure value (EV) system was invented in the 1950s to give an absolute measure of expo­sure needed. You get an EV when you combine sensor sensitiv­ity, shutter speed and aperture. Sensor sensitivity settings, shutter speed and aperture combina­tions that results in the same exposure have the same EV (e.g. ISO 100, f/8 and 1/125 have the same EV as ISO 100, f/5.6 and 1/250 and ISO 200, f/8 and 1/250, and so on). EV is designated by integers such as ..., -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ... . Each increment of 1 EV corresponds to a increase in the light reaching the sensor by a factor of 2 (letting you use half the ISO value, double the shutter speed, or close the aperture down 1 stop).

Formally, at ISO 100, EV 0 corresponds to a shutter speed of 1 second and an aperture of f/1.0:

EV 0 = (ISO 100, f/1.0, 1 second)

EV 0 is very dark, e.g. a night scene with dim ambient light. By comparison EV 15 is f/16 at 1/125th second, at ISO 100 - this is what you would use for a landscape in bright sunlight (aka known as “sunny sixteen”).

See Fred Parker's Ultimate Exposure Computer if you are interested in learning more about EV.

Note: There is some confusion whether EV takes ISO speed into account or not. Some insists that EV is only valid for ISO 100, and use a different term, such as light value (LV), or actual EV (aEV) for a number that is a function of the film speed, aperture and shutter triplet. To cut a long story short, the most useful metric for digital, where ISO speed is just as variable as the other two, is one that takes ISO speed into account, so that is what I use and call EV.

4. Camera Conversion Links

The links below leads to some pages outlining DIY procedures for infrared camera conversion. I've also included some links to outfits that claim that they will do the conversion for you. Linking to these outfits is not an endorsement. I haven't used any of these companies or individuals, and don't know anything about the quality of their work.

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23 responses:

Consider modifying a DSLR

You may consider modifying a DSLR. One of the easiest for IR-conversion is the Sigma SD10. It's IR blocking filter is removable with one screw, and is less than a minutes work. With the IR blocker removed, it can attain ISO 200-1600 in IR. Note that unlike the newer SD10, the Sigma SD9 hot mirror is not easy to remove.

Also note that the antireflective coatings on lenses do not operate properly with infrared light, so complex lenses like zooms tend to flare terribly. Simple single focal length lenses are the best.

Too low EV value for the Sigma SD10

I think your EV value for the Sigma SD10 should be much higher, considering that the type of filter it was using. B+W 093 has very high cutoff wavelength compare to those that of R72 that are commonly use by others camera. Whenever I used R72 in the sunny f16 rules, the exposure of the Sigma SD10 is normally f8 1/640s-1/1000s depending on the time of the day. I would be glad to tabulate the exposure times with difference filters used for this camera if you are interested.


Thanks for your input. I understand your objection, but currently, I do not just adjust for filter cutoff. You are probably right that the Sigma SD10 would give higher EV values with a R72 under sunny f16 conditions. I would appreciate input with SD10, in particular “typical” sunny f16 shots with the R72.


Hi! I really want to dig into the IR world. I have a 350D with a Canon 10-22mm usm. I want an IR-filter to this, but I don't know if 350D produces any good IR photos? Any suggestions on an IR-filter for the Canon 350D, 10-22mm lens?

Another thing I've been wondering about; how do I create IR photos? Do I have to produce them in Photoshop after taking the shots?


An unmodified Canon EOS 350D is not the best suited camera for IR photography, but it is certainly possible. For a bright sunlit scene, you will probably need 10 seconds exosure at f/11, ISO 400, so you need to use a tripod, and find a day where no wind move leaves and branches. For a filter, get the Hoya R72, it is among the cheapest, and have a low cut-off point, which is an advantage with the EOS 350D.

Out of camera, your shot will have a red tint, a very low contrast, and will look slightly unsharp. To get something presentable, post-processing is absolutely necessary. To get started, try desaturate, (auto) levels, and USM. For a more sophisticated result, use the channel mixer instead of desaturate to produce black & white or false (e.g. EIR-like) colours.

Kodak DCS bodies

Hi, I found those old Kodak DCS cameras very easy to modify, on the 620 and 760 which I own the IR filter is simply held by two small screws, just be careful not to drop the screws (use a magnetic screwdriver).

Now get a filter like the above mentioned Hoya R72 and voilà !

On a sunny day, at ISO 400, I can easily shot handheld.

Canon EOS550D for IR?

Hi, I am interested in the IR photography. Currently, I have an unmodified Canon EOS550D with the kit-lens. Is it possible for me to use it for an IR photography without any modification (just a IR filter?)?

You advice is highly appreciated!


canon 550d with green-l ir filter (greetings from indonesia, jakarta)

i ve shot with my canon 550d and a tamron 28-300mm A20 lens plus Green-L IR filter (+- USD20), i uploaded the pictures on my fb (, link to images - in order to see the files please login with facebook) … pls hv s visit

Nikon D1 & D100

I have the option of converting a Nikon D1 or a Nikon D100 for IR photography. Which one is the better camera for the conversion?

Thanks, kiko

IR Sensitivity

How is the IR Sensitivity for Nikon D7000?

Nikon D7000 IR sensitivity

According to this thread on Flickr it is doable, but do not expect to be able to work handheld.

The IR-sensitivity of an unmodified Nikon D7000 seems to be about the same as for the Nikon D80 (i.e. far below that of the Nikon D40, D50, D70 and D100), but with a sturdy tripod and 720 nm filter like the Hoya R72, you should be able to get results.

However, to be able to work handheld, you must modify the Nikon D7000 by replacing the IR-blocking filter in front of the sensor with clear glass.

Canon 1000D and IR

How is a Canon 1000D for IR?

Hot mirror replacement for IR-converted Nikon D7000

Hi, I'm searching an address where I can buy a clear glass filter to place in front of the sensor from the nikon D7000.

Can you help me? I have tried Lifepixel, but they said they don't have it!

Thanks a lot!

Clear glass for IR-conversion

I suggest you read Tony Kaplan's notes on Canon G-series conversion. He discusses how to get clear glass to replace the hot mirror and his general discussion applies to any IR-converted camera. He also have good advice on glass types, tolereances, and the effect of thickness on focus.

To find out what dimensions glass you require, measure the three dimensions (W×H×T) of the hot mirror and use that as a starting point. Then look for glass of a similar thickness (T) and cut the width (W) and hight (H) to fit.

As for sources, Kaplan suggests you try glass microscope slides and window glass from glass suppliers and optical surplus stores. He also suggests Edmund Industrial Optics as a source.

R72 for canon 550d

hi. i've just bought a hoya R72 filter for my canon 550d. does anybody out there know if im going to have to get it modified to take IR photos? and if so how do i go about doing it?


since you already have both a Canon EOS 550D/Rebel T2i and Hoya R72 filter, why don't you just check out yourself whether the unmodified camera suits you? It will take IR photographs, but you'll have to use fairly long exposure times even in bright sunlight. Handheld use will be out of the question, so you'll need a tripod.

If you want to be able to shoot handheld infrared, you need to modify the camera. There is a very instructive tutorial at the Lifepixel web site. Lifepixel should also be able to convert the camera for you for a fee.

Can't locate the Nikon D90?

Any idea on how it would do with IR photography? Your help is appreciated! :-)

Smartphones converted to IR cameras

I am wondering how this company is accomplishing a cell phone digital camera to IR camera conversion. See this link Can you help explain? Can it work?

Thermal photos with a smartphone

it is not really a conversion of the phone. It looks like they plan to create a thermal imager contraption that projects an thermal image on a screen that you may take a photograph or video of, using the built in camera in your phone. The contraption is supposed to be attached to your camera with with “an adhesive polymer”. You also establish a wired connection between the phone and camera via USB, allowing you to use a phone app for user interface. When you remove the contraption, your phone is back to normal.

Provided they're able to put an thermal imager plus screen inside such a tiny box, I can't see why it should not work.

how to create a infrared image

Hi, I use Nikon D700 and I got IR filter (R72 720nm),I don't know how to create a good infrared image.I try it many times total loss in fully red color.Pls give me a good advice.Thankyou

Good Luck to you

Mirrorless rules!

I had converted 300D, 350D. Both are good even in dim light. The 300D with 18-55mm kits gives me thousand of pictures handheld. Without IR block filter in front of the sensor, I can use even the 1000nm filter in front of the lens to get macro picture.

The 350D is not as good as 300D.

But both passed away when mirrorless came. IR Conversion is the same as these dSLRs. But there is no more AF misaligned problem. The CD-AF nature of mirrorless solves all the problem. More, you see what you'll take before pressing the button! No more guess work.

Now I have converted olympus E-P1 & E-PL2, panasonic GF-2.

E-P1 is best. PP picture has tonal deeper than other two.

Camerphone comparison of IR filters

I am looking for a similar table for cameraphones.

I.e. Which cameraphones have a poor (or no) internal IR filter.

I guess the more modern and more expensive it is, the less like you can use it for IR photography.



And what about comparing E-P1 with lets say Canon 600D in liveview mode?


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